Tutor the personal tutors

November 27, 2008

I was pleased to see coverage of my speech at the Association of University Administrators conference on the important research conducted by the University of Worcester into why students decide to drop out of their courses ("Dropouts shun 'useless support'", 20 November).

However, some crucial points that I made were missing. In my speech, I stressed that institutions need to revisit the role of the personal tutor in the light of our finding that some students feel they receive inadequate advice. Institutions need to look at how personal tutors are themselves supported, and ensure that tutors are aware of other support mechanisms that are available and that these are well resourced and well promoted.

I said I was disappointed that many tutors were apparently unable to give, or point students in the direction of, appropriate financial or other advice. However, I also acknowledged that institutions must ensure that the necessary toolkits are in place so that students and their tutors are aware of the sources of advice available. I did lament a lack of initial enthusiasm for changing the focus of our induction to make it more academically focused and a more valuable experience for our students. But I also described the university's success in changing induction and how that would not have been achieved without the input of all academic and support staff.

John Ryan, Registrar and secretary, University of Worcester.

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